Turkey Day at the Mayo Clinic

Roasted Turkey With Meat ThermometerAnd I was the turkey.

I met with a neurologist this morning and had a very thorough exam. He informed me I would have a “busy few days” ahead of me. He wasn’t kidding. Within minutes, a “scheduler” had reams of paper prepared for me, outlining my testing appointments as well as instructions on how to prepare for each of the tests. I then scooted off for my bloodwork (15 vials worth!) and then on to my afternoon test, which is where the turkey comes in.

The Thermoregulatory Sweat Test. Not fun for someone who hates to be hot, but Mayo is a good place to remind oneself that other people have it lots worse. I so wish I’d been able to get a picture of myself after this test for the blog, but frankly, I was not in the mood!

So the test: first, you get naked and put a little paper cap on your head. Then you lie down on a gurney and the really nice technician places “modesty cloths” strategically over the parts of your body you’d most like covered. Then she gives you “sunglasses” to protect your eyes before spraying a beigy brown powder on all exposed skin. She slips a probe designed to keep track of your temperature in your mouth. Next, it’s into the oven–a long rectangular box filled with lights and wires and apparently, a camera, though I never did quite figure that part out.   

Music begins to play. Lots of light Sinatra-era music, although a beautiful piece from The Piano somehow worked its way in there. Then the heat lamps come on with a vengeance. I think I mentioned how I hate being hot? I’ll spare you all the mental gymastics I went through to keep my mind off the fact that I was suffocating. The objective is to stay in the box until your temperature reaches 100.4 degrees. I didn’t last quite that long, so my fingers are crossed they got the info they need.

Every few minutes, the technician opens one of the four little windows on the sides of the box and dusts more powder on whatever limb is closest to her. I felt for all the world like a turkey being basted.

About that beigy brown powder. When it gets wet, it turns purple. I looked like a giant grape by the time I was wheeled out of the oven. Then comes the shower–cue the Psycho theme music!  What a revolting mess. I feel so bad for whoever has to clean that bathroom after one of these tests.

I’m so impressed with the clockwork precision of this place. So far, everything has been done quickly and efficiently and people have been exceptionally nice, as though they love their work. Plus, the buildings themselves are stunning, and being in beautiful surroundings can only lift your spirits.

So that was my day. I want to spend a little time with the Midwife before turning in early. First test tomorrow is at 7:30 am–the middle of the night for this nightowl. 

Sleep tight, everyone.


  1. Debbie hearne on August 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Instead of warm wishes tonight….I wish you cool ocean breezes!

  2. Cindy Ducharme on August 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    You are an amazing woman and I know they will take good care of you there. 🙂

  3. Ann on August 3, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I have never heard of such a test – do you know what tests you have tomorrow or are they all “surprises”? Maybe the tests tomorrow will include ice and other cool things to make up for today.

  4. Cindy Mathes on August 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Hoping that this test told them something…I wonder..maybe if you had turned blue or red, that would have been a different dx..lol.
    I know that this is not funny. But sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. Sending you lots of hugs and prayers.

  5. Hope on August 4, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Good grief, Diane, I hate heat!! And I’m slightly claustrophobic. You’re a better woman than I am! God forbid you have to retake it. And 15 vials of blood — 15??? The techs had to struggle to get 2 vials at a time out of my veins when I was at UAB. I was stuck so many times that my arms look like I’m 95 years old and have been OD-ing on blood thinners for 10 years.
    Can’t wait to read what “delights” they have in store for you tomorrow. Hangeth thou in there, precious friend! I’m ramping up my prayers for you.

  6. Julie Kibler on August 4, 2010 at 3:54 am

    I have to say you did a fine job of making something unfunny funny. I’m glad you survived. Not sure I would have!!

  7. Margo on August 4, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Oh Diane, only you could make this situation funny…I know its not pleasant but your turkey descriptions actually had me laughing out loud…you are quite an amazing woman.
    Thinking of you and anxious to hear what strange test they approached you with today.

  8. Margo on August 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

    P.S…Diane, you are probably the only novelist who would think to bring their WIP with them and write at the Mayo Clinic!…I bet the nurses/doctors just love you!

  9. brenda on August 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Good grief-I too have never heard of this test…I can’t imagine what they are trying to do unless they are trying to make one understand what it is like to be in Menopause for YEARS. I would probably have another stroke in the “box” with the “heat” not to mention being closed in. I don’t really have Claustrophobia the way I used to-but when I had a test for my heart, the attendant talked to me and held my hand, so i would not feel closed in (I had her son in class-she was sweet)…Goodness. all that blood…good grief, Diane…you are to be admired…they also have trouble getting blood from me. Good luck, my friend…you are in my thoughts and prayers. I agree with Margo, and I think there is a story there…

  10. brenda on August 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Looked up the test-sounds horrible.

  11. brenda on August 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I admire you so much.

  12. Patricia McLinn on August 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I’d hug you, girl, but you’re hot . . . and purple.

    Julie said it so well about making something unfunny funny.

    And think recycling: you’ll be able to use this all in a book someday.

    Keep on keeping on, Toots.

  13. Diane Chamberlain on August 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    You all make me sound much braver than I am! I’m a wimp. Made them take me out of the oven a few degrees before I was truly cooked. Shudder. Brenda, it was a menopasal nightmare.

  14. brenda on August 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I would have too-if I could have even gotten in.

  15. […] I was also in the midst of coping with other health issues at the time (remember my stint as the turkey at the Mayo Clinic?). Reluctantly, I turned them down, but they found a far better spokeswoman than […]

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